It is a gorgeous day in Zadar, on this brightly colored floating island. Today is your Apprentice’s Eve, and it’s the first day you’re getting to choose a little companion creature, called a Temtem. Luckily, here on this island, your professor friend has brought along a trio of creatures, from which you will pick your first. Then, quickly, your adventure gets temporarily stalled as you are challenged by your childhood rival to a Temtem battle. Then, set off on your adventure, you will visit various dojos, challenge their leaders, and continue to develop your skills as a Temtem tamer.
If this setup sounds familiar, it’s because it inevitably is. At first blush, and even during prolonged play, it can be difficult to see Temtem as anything other than exactly what it is, an MMORPG not at all dissimilar from Game Freak’s massively popular Pokemon franchise.
It’s not exactly Pokémon…
The impulse to dwell only on what separates Temtem from Pokémon is immediate. In brief, some of the major differences are some of Temtem’s noteworthy strengths. Without the specter of a long list of known creatures, skills, types, and setups means that the competitive elements of Temtem are not going to be immediately drowning in optimized creatures and movelists. It gives both new and practiced high-level Pokémon players a relatively level playing field.
Similarly, seasoned Pokémon players will find moves, move energy, and type systems don’t work exactly the same, and will need to do a bit of work exploring the new types, moves, and timings to get the full swing of combat. Nothing too jarring, but enough wrinkles to change up the pace and style of play from time to time.
Also, in combat, the player will always deploy two creatures, even against individual opponents. It means players will have the opportunity to stage their teams so they can apply status effects and attacks on the same turn they try to capture a creature. Though it’s a little detail, having each creature act as its own independent turn in combat also means item usage, rest turns, and status effects are done in concert with other player actions. A bit of topspin on turn-by-turn strategizing.
Despite those differences, players looking to have somewhat familiar experience without having to learn brand new mechanics and systems will find Temtem to be a very easy thing to settle into. So, those familiar with Pokémon will have little trouble acclimating quickly, and lancing themselves into the world immediately.
It Shouldn’t Be!
Although the setup, structure, and trappings may seem inextricably similar to Pokémon, one of the most exciting parts of Temtem is getting to be excited about the ways in which it isn’t like it’s nearest comparison. For all the things the Nintendo titan is, it also exists in volumes already. Temtem can’t be exactly that, nor should it!
Temtem is another game world, with an entirely different population, one which is filled primarily with other players. Players who can be whatever sort of player and tamer they want to be. Although Temtem has a narrative mode, it will also be a world overflowing with players of every stripe, strategies of every sort, and opportunities to socialize and coordinate that promises to be very unique in the creature capture genre.
Unburdened by Grandeur
Games too often have a world-saving gravitas. The idea of averting the apocalypse, saving the princess, or defeating the grand evil is a long shadow that seems to hang oppressively over many online narratives. Players can sit in the town square, contemplating the choices that hang heavy over their heads as the sole saviors of the universe, surrounded by hundreds of other sole saviors of the universe. Massively multiplayer online games, as a whole, are kind of silly in that way.
Temtem is free of that gravity. In fact, the entire world seems to be powered by bright colors and charming locals. The tropical village of Zandar is a paradise of tourist pleasure, a place to kick up one’s feet, watch the waves lap over the sand, and enjoy the passing breeze. A game with competitive stakes, but one that doesn’t feel the need to linger darkly on them.
You are young, you are free, you are not bound by social needs, you have all your best creature friends with you. Go find your adventure!
Over the Horizon
There’s a lot more to Temtem still over the horizon, and it will be a pleasure to continue to explore what new details come about as the game grows. There’s plenty of opportunity for Temtem to be a hit on its own rights.
For now, a few creatures, some beachfront skirmishes, and a new adventure on the horizon are enough.